This 'n' That

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

The following story is true. It happened to me and I still can’t get over it. It started several years ago when my doctor recommended an over-the-counter medication for controlling allergies. If you live in Galveston County, you are highly likely to suffer from seasonal pollen-driven allergy attacks.
The product the doctor recommended was Claritin-D. I bought some and was really happy with how well it worked. I reported back to him how much it helped. I was using the 12-hour version,
so I only needed one per day.
Then, a good while later,
I went into my local pharmacy to buy another box of this wonder drug. Suddenly, I had to produce my photo ID and it was entered into the cash register. Back came an “OK” that I was eligible to buy
my Claritin-D.
I was stunned and asked the checker why buyers of this simple allergy medication were being ID’d like criminals just because they had allergies. Initially, I was told that the pills contained mostly pseudoephedrine sulfate and that the government now required the product’s surveillance. I signed my name as the purchaser, grabbed my pills before they could change their minds and left the store.
The more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed. So the next time I bought Claritin-D, I decided to purchase it at the grocery store. Again, I had to show my photo ID and sign off for it. This time my “Why???” demand was probably a bit louder than normal, but going through all this government procedure was getting on my nerves.
The answer? Here’s what the store’s pharmacy department told me, as well as what
I found on the internet.
“The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic act of 2005 has been incorporated into the Patriot act signed by president George W Bush on March 9, 2006. The act bans over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to make methamphetamine.
“The sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine
is limited to behind the counter. The amount of pseudoephedrine that an individual can purchase each month is limited and individuals are required to present photo identification to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine.
“In addition, stores are required to keep personal information about purchasers for at least two years.”
That’s right. Buying any OTC drug containing pseudoephedrine makes you highly suspect because it’s “commonly used to make methamphetamine”. Welcome to the wonderful world of illegal drug making!
I was completely taken aback. Me, a former PTA member and room mother, buying allergy pills so I could manufacture meth?!
I recall that I’d been standing in a very long line waiting to make this purchase. In a very huffy voice I informed the server that, “if I was smart enough to be making meth out of allergy drugs, I’d have money enough to pay someone else to stand
in line for me!”
I kind of remember adding that I had better things to do than blow up my house making meth. That’s me – always tactful.
On my next visit to the doctor, I asked if he knew that he’d sent me out to buy medication that could be used to make meth. He was totally surprised when I told him my experiences.
This is not a protest against our national government. Somebody has to keep an eye on things. But it seems a bit like treating good folks like criminals.
Real drug makers probably know all kinds of ways to get their hands on medicines containing pseudoephedrine. And I bet they don’t have to stand in line to do so.
But at least my allergies are much easier to survive now.

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Spring is officially here. This needs mentioning as the weather so far this year has been so different each day. Sometimes we wake up to sunshine, warm breezes and mid-range temperatures. Other days might be chilly and damp, windy and warm or any combination of these choices. But on Monday – March 20 – spring arrived.  
The reason for this update is that there are a lot of events coming up in the next month. If you are anything like me, you require a calendar, the kind with big blocks for each day, so that you don’t get your dates mixed up and miss anything important.
It’s difficult enough remembering all the family events, loved ones’ birthdays, dental appointments and medical checkups.
I have been known to show up a week early or a day late for appointments. My excuse is that we have to make some of these arrangements six to 12 months in advance. Of course, the obvious answer is to enter them on your calendar as soon as you make the arrangement.
But nothing is foolproof. Who knows that far in advance what any of us might wind up doing around the time of the appointment? And what makes it even more challenging is that our doctors and dentists don’t always know what will be on their schedules either.


That’s when you receive the phone call from their office saying your appointment will have to be rescheduled.
And that is when it all unravels. Now you have two different dates and times stuck in your brain – the original date and the replacement date. The chance of you remembering the correct one is less than one per cent – and that’s after you’ve changed your calendar and added a sticky note on your mirror to help you remember.
The biggest challenge for many of us is the switch from standard time to daylight savings time. You might be like me and stumble around for at least a week trying to remember if the official time – the one we just adopted for the summer – is the same time our brain thinks it is.
It’s a weird kind of jetlag and one of the main symptoms is going around muttering to yourself: “Spring forward, fall back”. This doesn’t seem to actually help anyone but it gives you something new to be agitated about.
Heaven forbid you travel to a different time zone during this immediate-post-changeover period. That will guarantee long-term confusion, during which you not only cannot figure out what time it is but also where you actually are at the moment.
As a quick example, imagine that, during the first week of daylight savings time, you jump on a plane in Texas and fly to Las Vegas. Now, you have to remember that, as Texas is now one hour ahead because of its time change, you are actually two hours back in time when you land in Vegas.
OK, what time is it really? That depends on what time your watch says, what time you left home and whether or not you set your timepiece ahead or behind.
To which I say, who cares? You’re in Las Vegas! There are no clocks in the casinos. Everything stays open 24 hours a day. End of problem – it’s Party Time!

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

I’ve come up with a really innovative idea for an app for smart phones. It’s so ingenious that I’m thinking about pitching it on Shark Tank, the reality-TV show in which folks with bright ideas ask successful business owners – the sharks – for financial aid.
My app will make it possible to hang up with a bang on a call from some scam artist trying to con you over the phone.
Think about it – how can you slam down your smart phone without damaging it? For that matter, how do you hang up on someone the old-fashioned way, loudly slamming the receiver down on the base?
Our new high-tech phones are amazing. They can do all sorts of fancy things. But hanging up loudly by crashing down the receiver is not one of those things. With some tech help, I bet I can find a way to do it – extremely loudly.
Lately, I’ve gotten a lot more unsolicited robo-calls trying to part me from my hard-earned money. And, yes, I am on the Do Not Call list, for all the good that does.
Almost every day,
I receive a phone call from “Heather” or “Tiffany” to tell me they want to alert me about possible attempts to access my credit cards by scammers. I just need to give them some personal information about my account – like my card number, social security number and bank account info.
Sure I will. No problem. Let me hurry to hand over this data to protect it from scammers by giving it to these other crooks. Time to end the call but my only option is to press a small button to disconnect them. And there’s just not much satisfaction in that.
Another frequent caller is someone phoning “in answer to your request for a back brace or knee brace”. The fact that I have never made such a call and, thank goodness, don’t need either item doesn’t matter. I’ve tried hanging up, which does no good. The next day this scam artist is calling again.
I’ve also tried pushing the number that will transfer me to a live operator who will take my order.
I was thrilled to do this because whoever picked up my call was fixing to receive a loud and highly unpleasant earful. But, strangely, every time I’ve tried this, the line has disconnected before I could utter one word of protest.
The most aggravating crooked caller is someone saying they represent Microsoft Windows. They claim I have a problem with Windows on my computer but they will fix it for me.
At least, I think that’s what they are saying. The speaker has a very heavy accent and doesn’t seem to understand when I ask if they are affiliated with Windows.
They refuse to give me a phone number I can call to verify if they are really legitimate. Now, I just tell them I think they’re crooks and disconnect myself from the call.
But that’s not nearly as satisfactory as slamming down the receiver would be, so I really need to work on my smart-phone app idea. Maybe Siri could be programmed to make a slamming sound. I use Siri for just about everything else.
Shark Tank, here I come!

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Does anyone know where the robins have gone? Remember those red-breasted birds that used to show up every spring?
One day I’d suddenly find my whole yard filled with these beautiful harbingers of the season. I think they were migrating because you’d only see them here in Galveston County for a few days. Then they continued on their yearly trip. I don’t remember seeing them in the past several years.
Maybe they’re taking a different route. Maybe they’re lost. Maybe it’s global warming. Wherever they are, I miss them.
And, speaking of other things that seem to be missing, I’ve recently been online searching for a couple of my favorite TV series that seem to have vanished from the airwaves with no explanation. One, West Texas Investors Club, was on CNBC for two seasons before vanishing. I’ve tried various search engines to no avail.
The closest thing to an answer I found was a website about the series, titled Canceled Or Renewed? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an answer to that question. Big help that was. It was a really good series, too. The best way I can describe it is “Shark Tank with tumbleweeds”.
Another very popular series that seems to have dropped out of sight is the popular reality show The Biggest Loser. I missed the first few seasons but it stayed on the air for around 16 altogether. It was an inspiring weight-loss program in which morbidly obese people competed to lose the most weight and win the title of the biggest loser.
The show had drama, anguish and lots of competitiveness. Some folks went on and lost amazing amounts of weight just by learning to eat healthily and work out regularly. A few didn’t do as well but they did drop a fair amount of pounds.
I went searching on the internet for information I hoped would give me this season’s opening date. I found plenty about previous seasons, the trainers, the show’s host and last season. Once again, there was no starting date for this year.
Have they run out of fat people? Unlikely. Has the show been canceled? The websites didn’t address that burning question. Have all the trainers quit? Is The Biggest Loser lost?
In desperation, I turned to my trustworthy friend Siri – the one who resides in my i-Phone, knows everything and is my best go-to source for hard-to-find info. But even Siri couldn’t find these shows. Maybe they’ve flown off with the missing robins.
Fortunately for all us who like certain TV programs, the good news is that another will pop up in no time at all. Meanwhile, I will keepo asking around about those red-breasted fine-feathered friends.

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Lots of people have pets – cats, dogs, horses, birds and other loveable companions. But we also have another, less positive pet – the pet peeve.
Unfortunately, too many of us spend more time interacting with our peeves than we do with our pets. I don’t know the reason for this. Pet peeves are definitely negative thinking and not worth our time. But we all have one or more of these “critters”.
If you were to take an informal survey of your friends or family, asking them what their most irritating pet peeve is, you might elicit some unusual answers. What drives them around the bend might not bother you at all.
For instance, one of my top-of-the-list pet peeves is people who park in spaces for the handicapped although they have neither a handicap nor anything on their vehicle indicating they’re entitled to use such spaces.
I don’t know exactly why this drives me up the wall but it does. Maybe it’s the selfishness of it or the entitlement the offending drivers seem to feel. Years ago, I confronted a young woman in the parking lot at my bank. She had no handicapped license plate or card hanging from her rear-view mirror.
I asked her if she realized she had parked – illegally – in a spot reserved for people with handicaps. She replied that she was in a hurry to reach the bank.
All I could think of in reply was: “Why? To draw out money to go pay a ticket for a past parking violation?”
Probably my worst handicap-space experience came when a woman in a van pulled up next to me in one of the restricted areas. Again, she had no permit or special plates on her vehicle. As she exited her car, I addressed her as politely as possible – not easy when you’re gnashing your teeth – and said: “Are you aware you’ve just parked in a handicapped spot?”
“What’s it to you?”
she snarled.
Amazingly, an approriate answer popped into my mind. “I’m sorry”, I said, “I didn’t realize you have a mental handicap”. Not very nice of me – but still…
My second biggest pet peeve comes at the store when an overloaded shopper joins the checkout line that has a clearly stated limit on how many items you can pay for there. And, yes, I’m one of those people who count other folks’ items when it appears they are well over the limit.
How hard is it to add up the things in your shopping cart and figure out which line you should join? Too difficult for some people, apparently.
The common denominator in both my pet peeves is that the wrongdoer is being selfish. They’re in a hurry, they don’t like standing in longer lines – like anyone else does! – and they suffer from a skewed sense of entitlement. As far as they’re concerned, they are special and do not feel that the rules apply to them.
About all you can do in such situations is smile and say sweetly: “Oh, dear, you seem to have gotten in the wrong line. You have too many items in your cart.”
That’s probably when the fight will start. Just warning you.
In the meantime, what are your pet peeves?